Thursday, March 31, 2022

Sterling in Mich. revises 4Q earnings upward

Sterling Bancorp in Southfield, Mich., significantly increased its fourth-quarter earnings after revising the fair value of a commercial real estate loans it sold. 

The $2.9 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that it earned $8.1 million in the quarter, compared to the $4.8 million it reported in early February. 

Sterling determined after reporting its quarterly results that the estimated fair value of the loans at Dec. 31 should have been higher. 

The revision also resulted in a $6.1 million loan-loss recovery, an increase from the previously reported $1.6 million. 

Sterling said when it originally reported its quarterly earnings that it had reclassified about $61.7 million of CRE loans as held for sale with the intent of selling the loans in short order.

Citizens in Okla. designated a women-owned institution

Citizens Bank of Edmond in Oklahoma has been designated a women-owned depository institution by the Federal Reserve. 

Jill Castilla, the $370 million-asset bank’s president and CEO, made the announcement on her Twitter feed. 

“The OCC lists only a dozen women-owned/women-led banks in the nation,” she tweeted. “We’re so excited … to add one more!” 

The designation "provides our bank resources and access to funds that will further support of commitment to sustain for another 121 years as an independent, community bank while making positive generational impact in all the communities we serve," Castilla added in a LinkedIn post.

To qualify as a women-owned institution, majority ownership of the bank, or a majority of revenue, must be held by at least one woman and a “significant percentage” of senior management posts must be held by women. 

The Fed in March 2021 expanded the definition for minority depository institutions (MDIs) to include women-owned financial institutions. 

Among other things, MDIs have access to the Fed’s Partnership for Progress program, which provides participating institutions with resources to help them operate in a safe-and-sound manner, adhere to laws that protect consumers, and meet Fed supervisory standards. Banks can receive technical assistance, training and education.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Cross River parent company raises $620 million

CRB Group in Fort Lee, N.J., has raised $620 million in new capital.

The parent of the $9.1 billion-asset Cross River Bank said in a press release Wednesday that the funding was led by Eldridge and Andreessen Horowitz. Other investors included funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Investment Management, Whale Rock and Hanaco Ventures. 

Several of Cross River’s existing investors also participated, while FT Partners was the strategic and financial adviser. 

"Cross River is powering the future digital economy and changing lives by reinventing the way financial services are accessed," Gilles Gade, the company’s president and CEO, said in the release. 

"The quality of the investor group and size of our latest funding make this a landmark transaction in the financial technology arena, and will enable us to accelerate the growth of Cross River as the foundation of modern finance,” Gade added. 

Cross River said the new capital will accelerate its technology initiatives, which include building out embedded payments, cards, lending and crypto solutions.

FDIC seeks comments on climate-change proposals

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is seeking public comments after releasing proposed steps big banks should consider to manage exposure to climate-related financial risks. 

The federal agency said in a press release Wednesday that it the principles are focused on banks with more than $100 billion of assets. 

"The proposed statement of principles represents an initial step toward the promotion of a consistent understanding of the effective management of climate-related financial risks," Martin Gruenberg, the FDIC's interim chairman, said in a press release.

"The FDIC plans to elaborate on each of these principles in subsequent guidance," Gruenberg added. "Future guidance will continue to be appropriately tailored to reflect differences in financial institutions’ circumstances, including size, complexity of operations and business model."

While the proposal would apply to the nation's biggest banks, Gruenberg said in the release that "all financial institutions, regardless of size, complexity or business model, are subject to climate-related financial risks."

Regarding governance, the FDIC's principles said a bank's board and management "should demonstrate an appropriate understanding of climate-related financial risk exposures." 

Appropriate steps should include reviewing data necessary for oversight, allocating appropriate resources, assigning climate-related financial risk responsibilities throughout the bank and "clearly communicating to staff regarding climate-related impacts to the institution’s risk profile."

The agency said management teams should incorporate climate-related risks into their institution's policies, procedures and limits. Those risks should also be incorporated into a bank's overall business strategy and risk appetite, along with its financial, capital and operations plans.

The FDIC also noted that climate-related scenario analysis has become "an important approach for identifying, measuring and managing climate-related risks."

“The draft principles were developed to support efforts under way by large financial institutions to consider key aspects of climate-related financial risk management,” the release said. 

Credit risk and liquidity risk should also be considered, the FDIC said in its proposal.

The FDIC said it encourages financial institutions to consider climate-related financial risks “in a manner that allows them to continue to prudently meet the financial services needs of their communities.”

The agency noted that its request for comment is “substantively similar” to the one issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Dec. 16.

The FDIC said that comments will be due within 60 days of the notice is published in the National Register.

The proposal comes at a time when climate activists have sought votes at several large banks' annual meetings to push for more-aggressive steps to eliminate the financing of fossil-fuel projects.

Nicolet in Wis. announces another bank acquisition

Nicolet Bankshares in Green Bay, Wis., has agreed to buy Charter Bankshares in Eue Claire, Wis. 

The $7.7 billion-asset Nicolet said in a press release Wednesday that it will pay $158 million in cash and stock for the $1.1 billion-asset Charter. The deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter, priced Charter at 167% of its tangible book value. 

“Charter has a history of serving its customers and a deep-rooted commitment to community banking,” Mike Daniels, Nicolet’s president and CEO, said in the release. 

“We have known and respected the leaders at Charter for a long time,” Daniels added. “The magic of this opportunity is trust in the partnership and the people.” 

The deal is expected to produce high-single-digit accretion for Nicolet’s 2023 earnings per share. It should also be accretive to Nicolet’s tangible book value.

Nicolet said it plans to cut a quarter of Charter's annual noninterest expenses. The company expects to incur $9.5 million of merger-related expenses. 

Brenda Johnson, who chairs Charter, is expected to join Nicolet’s board. Paul Kohler, Charter’s president and CEO, will join Nicolet's senior management team and will lead its western Wisconsin and Twin Cities markets. 

Nicolet said it plans to close its loan production office in Eau Claire. 

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough advised Nicolet. Hovde Group and Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Seacoast to enter Miami with purchase of Apollo Bank

Seacoast Banking Corp. of Florida in Stuart will enter Miami through its pending purchase of Apollo Bancshares in Miami. 

The $9.7 billion-asset Seacoast said in a press release Tuesday that it will pay $168.3 million for the $1 billion-asset Apollo. The deal is expected to close early in the fourth quarter. 

Apollo has five branches, $928 million of deposits and $665 million of loans. The bank attempted to sell itself to Suncoast Credit Union in Tampa, Fla., in late 2019 but the deal was called off during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Apollo “is a customer-focused franchise with an outstanding reputation for service excellence and deep customer relationships in this important market,” Charles Shaffer, Seacoast’s chairman and CEO, said in the release. 

“We see a great opportunity to grow our presence and expand our position in South Florida by complementing Apollo’s strengths with Seacoast’s innovation and breadth of offerings," Shaffer added. 

Eddy Arriola, Apollo’s chairman and CEO, will become Seacoast’s Miami-Dade market executive.

Seacoast said it expects the deal to be 8% accretive to its 2023 earnings per share. It should take a little more than two years for Seacoast to earn back an expected 2.5% dilution to its tangible book value. 

Seacoast plans to cut about 39% of Apollo's annual noninterest expenses. The company expects to incur about $16 million of merger-related expenses.

Piper Sandler and Alston & Bird advised Seacoast. Keefe Bruyette & Woods and Fenimore, Kay, Harrison advised Apollo.

MetaBank to rebrand as Pathward

MetaBank in Sioux Falls, S.D., will rebrand as Pathward. 

The $7.6 billion-asset bank said in a press release Tuesday that the plan is to shift to the new name by the end of this year. 

Meta Financial, the bank’s holding company, will become Pathward Financial.

"Expanding financial access is too complex and important to be a part-time activity, which is why we’ve made financial inclusion for all the heart of everything we do,” Brett Pharr, MetaBank’s CEO, said in the release. 

“Pathward signals our commitment to removing barriers that prevent millions of Americans from achieving access to the financial system,” Pharr added. “Our new name serves as a constant reminder of the importance of creating a path forward for the unbanked, underbanked and underserved to help them achieve economic mobility.”

Meta said in December that it would change its names after selling its Meta-related rights and trademarks to an entity affiliated with the parent company of Facebook.

Meta sold the rights to Beige Key LLC for $60 million. Beige Key is affiliated with Facebook, which changed its corporate name to Meta Platforms. 

Meta received $50 million when the agreement was signed; the remaining money will be released after the phase-out is complete.

Fla. banker Rita Lowman joins wealth manager's board

Rita Lowman, former president of Pilot Bank, has joined the board of a Venice, Fla., wealth manager.

Caldwell Trust Co. said in a press release Tuesday that Lowman had accepted the position. 

“Rita’s experience with banking issues, combined with her financial expertise and passion for serving nonprofit institutions, makes her an ideal fit and very welcome addition to our board,” Kelly Caldwell Jr., Caldwell Trust’s president and CEO, said in the release. 

Pilot, which was based in Tampa, Fla., was sold to Lake Michigan Credit Union. Following the announcement of the sale, Lowman resigned from the board of the American Bankers Association.

Caldwell Trust manages over $1.5 billion in assets.

First Carolina raises $115M for expansion efforts

First Carolina Financial Services in Rocky Mount, N.C., has raised $115 million through a private placement of common stock. 

The $1.5 billion-asset company said in a press release Monday that it sold 4.6 million shares at $25 each to accredited individual and institutional investors. It is the company’s largest private placement – about $90 million came from local investors. 

First Carolina said it plans to use the proceeds to enhance capital ratios and support growth, among other things. 

“The completion of this private placement … reflects increasing customer demand for our service model across an expanding footprint,” Ron Day, First Carolina’s president and CEO, said in the release. 

“Our new and existing Southeast markets are experiencing significant growth and banking industry consolidation,” Day added. “We continue to see opportunity as the inevitable disruption of consolidation causes customers and talented bankers alike to demand better responsiveness and skill from their financial institution.” 

The company recently expanded into South Carolina and Atlanta. 

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods was the placement agent. Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton advised First Carolina, while Covington & Burling advised KBW.

MNB in Nebraska to buy Doniphan Bancshares

MNB Financial Services in McCook, Neb., has agreed to buy Doniphan Bancshares in Doniphan, Neb.

The $418 million-asset MNB said in a press release that it expects to complete the purchase of the $149 million-asset Doniphan on June 1. The company did not disclose the price it will pay. 

"This is a historic day for our organization," Brian Esch, MNB’s president and CEO, said in the release. "I am confident that our expansion into central Nebraska will provide economic security, growth and valuable options for our customers and our staff.” 

MNB said it will keep all of Doniphan’s staff members.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Norwood Financial identifies next leader

Norwood Financial in Honesdale, Pa., will soon have a new CEO. 

The $2.1 billion-asset company said in a press release Monday that James Donnelly will also become its president in early May. He will also join the company’s board. 

Donnelly will succeed Lewis Critelli, who plans to retire but will remain a director. 

Donnelly previously served as chief commercial officer at Bangor Savings Bank. 

Donnelly “is an experienced, dedicated and successful community banker,” Critelli said in the release.

Hometown Financial to buy Randolph Bancorp in Mass.

Hometown Financial Group in Easthampton, Mass., has agreed to buy Randolph Bancorp in Quincy, Mass. 

The $3.6 billion-asset Hometown said in a press release Monday that it will pay $146.5 million for the $803 million-asset parent of Envision Bank. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Randolph’s directors and executive officers, who own about 7.7% of the company’s stock, pledged to support the sale. At least one Randolph director will join Hometown’s board. 

“With the addition of Envision Bank, we more than double our full-service locations and assets in eastern Massachusetts,” Matthew Hometown’s CEO, said in the release. 

Sosik said Hometown will continue to seek out more acquisitions. 

Piper Sandler and Luse Gorman advised Hometown. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and Goodwin Procter advised Randolph.

Berkshire in Mass. planning new mobile app with Narmi

Berkshire Hills Bancorp in Boston is building a new consumer and small business mobile app and an online banking site through an expanded partnership with fintech Narmi. 

The $11.6 billion-asset company said in a press release Monday that the app will have upgrades that include personalization, savings tools, self-service capabilities and apps to support seamless money transfers and financial planning.  

Berkshire previously worked with the New York-based fintech to upgrade its consumer online account opening experience by reducing the time needed to open an account to just over two minutes. 

"Our deepened engagement with Narmi … to provide digital solutions to our consumer and small business clients will accelerate our journey towards becoming a high-performing, leading socially responsible community bank in New England and beyond,” Nitin Mhatre, Berkshire’s CEO, said in the release. 

“We believe partnering with best-in-class fintechs is one of the most cost-effective ways for a community bank to stay competitive while delivering the exceptional digital experience our customers want,” Mhatre added.

Bison State Bank in Kan. hires new CEO

Bison State Bank in Bison, Kan., has a new CEO. 

Mark Emley also agreed to become the $18.6 million-asset bank’s CEO. Emley (pictured) previously served as CEO of Kendall Bank in Overland Park, Kan.

Bison State named Curt Scoville, a banker who joined earlier this year, as its chief lending officer. 

The bank said Joylynn Gutierrez had become an executive vice president in charge of a new branch in Kansas City, Mo. She has held several roles at the bank, serving as an IT manager and a compliance officer.

Bank First got second shot to buy Denmark Bancshares

Patience paid off for Bank First in Manitowoc, Wis. 

The $2.9 billion-asset company made an initial overture to buy Denmark Bancshares in February 2020, roughly two years before it reached an agreement to buy the Denmark, Wis., company for $119.5 million. 

The initial effort was detailed in a regulatory filing associated with the pending acquisition, which was announced in January and is expected to close in the third quarter. 

Bank First’s first proposal had an implied purchase price of $109 million, with 80% of the consideration consisting of stock. The board of the $688 million-asset Denmark rejected the offer a month later, citing a desire to pursue its own organic growth and acquisitions.

Denmark found M&A to be easier said than done. It attempted over the second half of 2020 to merge with a similarly sized institution but the other bank decided in January 2021 to end discussions.

By October 2021, Denmark’s board had decided to explore selling. It hired an investment bank, which contacted three potential acquirers, including Bank First, a month later. 

Bank First and one other bank signed confidentiality agreements and were given access to non-public information to learn about Denmark’s loans and deposits, credit quality, vendor contracts and operating expenses. 

Bank First sent Denmark a non-binding expression of interest on Nov. 23 that proposed $119.5 million in cash and stock, or roughly 10% more than what it pitched the previous year. The other potential suitor did not make an offer. 

Bank First and Denmark began exclusive talks shortly thereafter, and an initial draft of the merger agreement was circulated on Dec. 17. 

Denmark’s due diligence included a review of Bank First’s strategic plan and future growth prospects, its integration plan and financial performance. The research also looked at Bank First’s strategic plans for Denmark’s markets, shareholder liquidity, existing business lines and potential new lines of business. 

Denmark’s board unanimously approved the merger on Jan. 14. Bank First gave its unanimous approval at a meeting four days later, allowing the banks to make a public announcement. 

The deal priced Denmark as 175% of its tangible book value. Bank First will cut half of Denmark’s annual noninterest expenses. The company expects to incur $10.7 million in merger-related expenses.

The deal should be 4.9% accretive to Bank First’s 2022 earnings per share. It should take less than three years for the company to earn back an estimated 3.3% dilution to its tangible book value.

The regulatory filing also disclosed that Bank First will terminate the employment agreement for Scott Thompson, Denmark’s chairman, president and CEO, and pay him a lump sum of $1.4 million. Thompson agreed to a two-year confidentiality and non-solicitation arrangement.

Citizens in RI creates overdraft-free checking account

Citizens Financial Group in Providence, R.I., has created an overdraft-free checking account designed to help underbanked and underserved communities. 

The $188 billion-asset company said in a press release Monday that Citizens EverValue Checking accounts will have a $5 monthly fee. 

Citizens said the account was certified by the CFE Fund for meeting Bank On National Account Standards. 

The account is “the latest in a series of changes to our product suite to ensure customers have a simple, safe and transparent way to bank," Brendan Coughlin, the company’s head of consumer banking, said in the release. “Citizens is committed to helping all customers feel more confident in their financial lives, including avoiding unnecessary fees.” 

Citizens also said it would roll out a new account feature in the second quarter that will allow customers to receive direct deposits up to two days early.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

A look at how states are blocking CU-bank deals

Mississippi just passed a law that should severely restrict credit unions' abilities to buy banks in the state.

The state is the latest to intervene in an issue of great importance to bankers. In fact, the Independent Community Bankers of America has pushed Washington to step in, either by blocking such seals or imposing a tax on credit unions that do buy banks. 

For now, it looks like most roadblocks will come from the state level. 

Here are four examples. 

Colorado: The state's banking board in 2020 rejected a bid by Elevations Credit Union to buy Cache Bank & Trust, supporting an argument that state law bars purchases between different types of financial institutions. Cache eventually sold to Mountain Valley Bank. 

Iowa: Though the state's banking commission approved the sale of First American Bank to GreenState Credit Union, the agency said it would "quickly deny" any subsequent deals.

Nebraska: GreenState Credit Union in Iowa wasn't allowed to buy Premier Bank after the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance determined in January 2022 that the credit union failed to provide supporting evidence that federal law allowed it to buy a national bank's assets.

Mississippi: A law that goes into effect in July would require that any assets or liabilities sold by state-chartered banks must be bought by institutions insured by the FDIC.

Tennessee: Orion Federal Credit Union's planned purchase of Financial Federal Bank is on hold after a judge granted an injunction sought by the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions Commissioner. The agency argued that the Tennessee Banking Act allows only bank holding companies to acquire, form or control a bank. 

It will be interesting to see if the ICBA, and the overall banking industry, will successfully make more arguments like these in other states where credit unions are trying to buy banks.

Friday, March 25, 2022

FDIC to seek comments on handling bank mergers

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is moving forward on a request for comments tied to laws and regulations for bank mergers. 

The FDIC said on Friday that it had sent its proposal to the Federal Register for publication, which would start a 60-day period for public comments. The process will also seek comments on mergers between insured depository institutions and noninsured ones. 

“The FDIC is interested in receiving comments regarding the effectiveness of the existing framework in meeting the requirements of section 18(c) of the” Bank Merger Act, the agency said in the release. 

“Significant changes over the past several decades in the banking industry and financial system warrant a review of the regulatory framework,” the FDIC added.

The agency is seeking comment as to whether federal regulators should give more weight to financial stability risk when evaluating big bank mergers, suggesting $100 billion of assets as a theoretical threshold.

The request will also seek feedback as to whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should be permitted to participate in the review process.

Northrim in Alaska taps insider as next bank president

Northrim BanCorp in Anchorage, Alaska, has a new bank president. 

The $2.7 billion-asset company said in a press release Friday that Michael Huston will succeed Joe Schierhorn on Saturday. Schierhorn will remain president and chief operating officer of the company and chairman and CEO of the bank.

Huston will remain the bank’s chief lending officer.

Amber Zins was named the bank’s chief operating officer. She most recently served the bank’s chief administrative officer. 

“Mike and Amber bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to their new roles and expanded responsibilities” Schierhorn said in the release. 

“We have built a team of experienced professionals over the years to ensure the long-term success of our business,” Schierhorn added. “Investing in our people and recruiting talented bankers to our team remains a key element of our growth strategy.”

Mortgage lender agrees to buy Wisconsin bank

Thompson Kane & Co., a mortgage lender in Madison, Wis., has agreed to buy Benton State Bank in Wisconsin. 

The mortgage lender said on Wednesday that it expects to complete the purchase of the $77 million-asset bank in the fourth quarter. It did not disclose the price it will pay. 

Benton State’s management team is expected to stay after the deal closes. 

Benton State “is over 125 years old and we are thrilled that it will remain a community-based, independent financial institution serving local businesses, farmers, homeowners and consumers,” Steve Malone, the bank’s president and CEO, said in a press release. 

“We will lead the bank into the future with additional growth avenues and plenty of capital to finance our plan,” Malone added. 

Scott Freiburger, Benton State’s executive vice president, will become its president after the deal is completed.

Hancock Whitney to eliminate NSF fees

Hancock Whitney in Gulfport, Miss., will do away with consumer nonsufficient funds fees, along with certain overdraft, fees by the end of this year. 

The $36.5 billion-asset company said in a press release that it will also increase its existing overdraft balance threshold to provide clients a bigger cushion before fees are assessed.

The moves are expected to reduce the company’s service charges on deposit accounts by about $10 million to $11 million annually.

“The financial industry has entered a new era in banking designed to provide customers with the tools needed to help them manage their overall finances, and we believe these changes are another step towards achieving that goal,” John Hairston, Hancock Whitney’s president and CEO, said in the release. 

Hancock Whitney introduced Early Pay in March, which gives customers access to their direct-deposited payroll up to two days sooner. The company is also planning to offer a new checking product, Assure Checking, that will have no overdraft fees. 

The company is one of several midsize banks to curb NSF and overdraft fees. 

Ameris Bancorp in Atlanta recently said it would , and Trustmark in Jackson, Miss., made .

Generations in NY selling insurance agency book of business

Generations Bancorp NY in Seneca Falls is selling its insurance agency’s book of business. 

The $379 million-asset company disclosed in a regulatory filing Thursday that The Northwoods Corp. is buying the book of business, with payments expected to be made over a six-year period. 

The amount of the payments was not disclosed. 

Generations also said that Northwoods would assume customer service responsibilities for Generations Insurance Agency, effective April 1.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Farmers National entering Pittsburgh with Emclaire deal

Farmers National Banc Corp. in Canfield, Ohio, has agreed to buy Emclaire Financial in Emlenton, Pa.

The $4.1 billion-asset Farmers said in a press release Thursday that it will pay $105 million in cash and stock for the $1.1 billion-asset Emclaire. The deal, which is expected to close in the second half of this year, priced Emclaire at 144.7% of its tangible book value. 

William Marsh, Emclaire’s chairman, president and CEO, will join Farmers as Pennsylvania market president. One Emclaire director will join Farmers’ board. 

“This latest transaction will mark a significant extension into the Pennsylvania markets, which has been a long-time strategy for Farmers,” Kevin Helmick, Farmers’ president and CEO, said in the release.

“The contiguous expansion will also serve as Farmers’ entrance into the attractive Pittsburgh market and allow us to deliver our robust wealth management and mortgage services to the Emlenton footprint,” Helmick added. 

Emclaire has $790.9 million of loans and $918.5 million of deposits. 

The deal is expected to by 10% accretive to Farmers' earnings per share. It should take about three years for Farmers to earn back any dilution to its tangible book value.

Farmers plans to cut about 34% of Emclaire's annual noninterest expenses. The company expects to incur $13.2 million of merger-related expenses.

Janney Montgomery Scott and Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease advised Farmers. Raymond James and Silver, Freedman, Taff & Tiernan advised Emclaire.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Mississippi law would undercut credit union-bank mergers

Mississippi has joined the ranks of states intervening to stop credit unions from buying banks. 

Gov. Tate Reeves signed into law legislation requiring that any assets or liabilities sold by state-chartered banks must be bought by institutions insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. 

“A bank chartered by the State of Mississippi may, with the approval of the [banking] commissioner, sell or transfer all, or substantially all, of its assets, liabilities, and businesses only to another bank, savings bank, savings and loan association or other entity” insured by the FDIC, the law states. 

The banking commissioner can issue a cease-and-desist order to any state-chartered bank that tries to sell itself or “transfer substantially all assets” to an unauthorized buyer. 

Mississippi has 59 state-chartered banks with a total of $111 billion of assets, according to the Mississippi Bankers Association.

The law is set to take effect on July 1. 

"We were glad to see this legislation through the Mississippi Legislature by unanimous vote, and we appreciate the efforts of many bankers that worked to support the MBA’s efforts in passing this new law," a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Bankers Association said. "In crafting this legislation we were focused on meeting the industry goal of fair competition while also working to ensure that bank-to-bank transactions would not be harmed." 

Credit unions looking to buy banks have met legal and regulatory roadblocks in other states, including Colorado, Tennessee and Nebraska.

Ameris joins list of banks curbing overdraft fees

Ameris Bancorp in Atlanta is the latest midsize bank to announce plans to reduce and eliminate certain overdraft fees.

The $23 billion-asset company said in a press release Wednesday that it will eliminate nonsufficient funds and return item fees tied to payments that cannot be processed due to a lack of funds. Ameris will also eliminate extended overdraft fees for maintaining a negative balance. 

Customers will be allowed to use their savings or other deposit accounts as overdraft protection without incurring transfer charges. In all other instances, the cap on daily overdraft fees will be lowered from five to three. 

The changes will take place on May 31.

"These changes are designed to make banking easier and to recognize that many of our customers are working hard to improve their financial standing,” CEO Palmer Proctor said in the release. “Ameris is exploring new ways to improve our digital channels to help customers move and manage their money.”

Overdraft fees represent about $11.4 million of annual revenue, or 1.1% of total revenue, at Ameris, Christopher Marinac, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott, wrote in a note to clients.

Marinac said the company should be able to partially offset the lost revenue with higher spreads as interest rates rise.

Trustmark in Jackson, Miss., recently announced that it would do away with NSF fees by the end of this year. The $17.6 billion-asset company said the move could reduce annual revenue by about $2 million in 2023. 

Several larger financial institutions, including Ally Financial, Cullen/Frost Bankers, Huntington Bancshares and PNC Financial Services, have announced programs that will likely reduce revenue from overdraft fees.

Burke & Herbert continues expansion past northern Va.

Burke & Herbert Bank in Alexandria, Va., plans to expand into the Richmond, Va., market. 

The $3.6 billion-asset bank – the oldest in Virginia – said in a press release that it has hired a commercial banking team and plans to add an office in the state’s capital later this year. The bank plans to open branches over time. 

The bank hired Seth Feibelman, a former banker at Wells Fargo, as its commercial market executive for Richmond. It also brought on Ray Cilimberg from First Capital Bank to serve as a commercial relationship manager. 

Arnold Blackmon, a commercial relationship manager who joined the bank in 2020, rounds out the initial team. 

“Our relationship-based approach to meeting the borrowing, banking, and treasury management needs of local businesses is one that we believe the Richmond community truly will appreciate,” Gregory Mellors, the bank’s director of commercial banking, said in the release. 

“We are confident that the bankers we’ve chosen … have the experience and local market knowledge required to deliver customized financing solutions,” Mellors added. 

Burke & Herbert entered Fredericksburg and Loudoun County last year, marking its first locations beyond northern Virginia.

Alliance Data rebrands as Bread Financial

Alliance Data Systems in Columbus, Ohio, has rebranded as Bread Financial Holdings, taking on the name of the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) business it bought in late 2020. 

The company, a private-label credit card lender, will also change its stock symbol from “ADS” to “BFH” on April 4. 

Comenity Bank and Comenity Capital Bank will keep their names. 

“This is a turning point for the company, as our new brand represents the strategic direction of our business transformation to a modern, tech-forward financial services company,” Ralph Andretta, Bread’s president and CEO, said in a Wednesday press release. 

“Combining the heart and hustle of a fintech with the discipline and stability of a well-established bank, Bread Financial will remain laser focused on delivering the innovative, omnichannel payment, lending and saving solutions that consumers now demand at every stage along their financial journeys,” Andretta added.

Citizens-Investors merger secures Fed approval

The Federal Reserve has approved another large bank merger announced last year

The Fed said in a press release Tuesday that it had signed off on the proposed sale of Investors Bancorp in Short Hills, N.J., to Citizens Financial Group in Providence, R.I. The $3.5 billion deal was announced in July 2021. 

The approval had one notable condition – that the $188 billion-asset Citizens take part in 2023 stress tests to account for the fact that the $27 billion-asset Investors will not factor into this year’s capital buffer calculations. 

M&T Bank was given the same stipulation as part of its pending purchase of People’s United Financial.

The Fed’s approval removes another longstanding application from the docket at a time where federal banking agencies are evaluating how they review big bank mergers. 

Citizens and Investors have said they expect to close their deal by mid-2022.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Community Bancorp in Kan. to buy Quarry City Savings

Community Bancorp in Chanute, Kan., has agreed to buy Quarry City Savings and Loan Association in Warrensburg, Mo. 

The parent of the $1.9 billion-asset Community National Bank & Trust said in a press release Tuesday that it will pay $10.4 million in cash for the $71.3 million-asset Quarry City, subject to adjustment. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter. 

"We are pleased with the opportunity to welcome Quarry City and its employees and customers to Community National,” Daniel Mildfelt, Community Bancorp’s president and CEO, said in the release. “Both institutions share the principles of caring for their employees, the communities they serve and providing high-quality products and services to their customers.” 

Quarry City was advised by The Capital Corporation and Luse Gorman. Community Bancorp was advised by Minter & Pollak.

Fed notices reveal three small bank mergers

Several bank mergers have been disclosed by the Federal Reserve. 

The Fed listed the pending transactions in a pair of public notices.

Northeast Kansas Bancshares in Overland Park has agreed to acquire Bank of Orrick in Missouri.

Community Bancshares of America, a group formed to buy banks, acquired Northeast Kansas Bancshares, the parent of the $115 million-asset Kendall Bank, to advance that strategy. Bank of Orrick has $43.6 million of assets. 

First Artesia Bancshares in New Mexico plans to buy Southwest United Bancshares in El Paso, Texas.

First Artesia, the parent of the $1.6 billion-asset First American Bank, plans to complete the purchase of Southwest and the $350 million-asset United Bank of El Paso Del Norte in the second or third quarter.

Finally, ServBanc Holdco in Phoenix is looking to acquire Allied First Bancorp, the parent of the $167 million-asset Allied First Bank in Oswego, Ill.

Former Howard CEO Scully finds second act

Loyola University Maryland has hired a former bank CEO as the next dean of is business school. 

The university said in a press release that Mary Ann Scully will join the Rev. Joseph A. Sellinger, S.J., School of Business and Management on July 1. 

Scully co-founded Howard Bank and was its chairman and CEO for 18 years. The $2.6 billion-asset bank was sold to F.N.B. Corp. earlier this year. She earned an MBA in finance from Loyola in 1979. 

“Scully’s career experience, demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and deep appreciation for Loyola’s Jesuit values will prepare our students for internships, job opportunities, and lifetimes of personal and professional success,” Cheryl Moore-Thomas, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, said in the release. 

“I have been intentionally thinking about my next opportunity to be relevant and have an impact,” Scully said I the release. “This opportunity … offers an important intersection of the expertise that I’ve built up over the years.”

Proposed Colo. bank to delve into precious metals

A proposed bank in Colorado has a business plan that involves dealing in precious metals. 

Organizers of the proposed Battle Bank in Avon said in their application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. that the de novo plans to offer clients opportunities to buy, sell, take delivery of, and store non-FDIC insured precious metals. The bank would also originate loans backed by precious metals. 

Those metals could include gold, silver, platinum and palladium, the application said. 

Battle, which would have a national charter and be a unit of Battle Financial, also plans to develop and offer a deposit sweep service to registered investment advisers. 

Organizers said they expect Battle’s broader model “will attract financially sophisticated, self-directed, mass-affluent customers with a diverse base of small and medium-sized business customers.” 

Battle Financial, the bank’s sole shareholder, would issue shares in exchange for $120 million of initial capital. 

Frank Trotter would be chairman and CEO, while Vinnie Amato would be director of operations. Trotter and Amato have held roles at EverBank, which was sold to TIAA.

Monday, March 21, 2022

De novo EntreBank opens in Minnesota

EntreBank has opened in Bloomington, Minn., just seven months after filing its application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The de novo opened after receiving conditional approval from the FDIC in January and raising nearly $45 million of initial capital, exceeding what was stipulated in the agency's order.

Organizers applied with the FDIC for deposit insurance in August. They changed the proposed bank’s name from Brava Bank to EntreBank. 

The bank is as a unit of Entrepreneurs Bancshares. The principal investor is the Entrepreneurs Bancshares Revocable Trust of Daniel A. Boeckermann. 

Daniel Boeckermann is the chairman. Timothy Viere is CEO.

EntreBank is Minnesota's first de novo since Minnesota Bank & Trust opened in 2008.

Everett Co-operative in Mass. plans mutual conversion

Everett Co-operative Bank in Massachusetts is planning to convert from a mutual to a stock-owned company.

The $733 million-asset mutual recently filed an application with the Federal Reserve tied to the planned conversion. It would operate as a unit of ECB Bancorp.

ECB said in a prospectus that it plans to sell 7.9 million to 12.2 million shares of common stock. Net proceeds would likely range from $76.4 million to $119.7 million.

ECB said that half of the net proceeds will be invested in its bank, while 8.4% will be loaned to its employee stock ownership plan. About 41% of the net proceeds will remain at the holding company.

ECB said it will contribute $600,00 in cash and 260,000 shares of common stock to a charitable foundation it plans to form in connection with the conversion.

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods will serve as the sole manager for the offering. 

Everett Co-operative earned $4 million in 2021.

Dispute surfaces over nixed Amalgamated deal

Amalgamated Financial in New York said Amalgamated Bank of Chicago could pursue compensatory damager after their proposed merger fell through. 

The $6.9 billion-asset Amalgamated Financial announced in February that it had pulled its application to buy the $1 billion-asset Amalgamated Bank for $98.1 million in cash. The New York bank said it withdrew the application “due to an inability to obtain” regulatory approval. 

Amalgamated in Chicago had a different take when the application was withdrawn. 

“The terms of our agreement ... are clear on what triggers termination of this sale,” the Chicago bank said. Amalgamated Financial has “not met that threshold as the door on addressing issues raised by the FDIC to obtain regulatory approval is still open."  

Amalgamated Financial said in a Friday regulatory filing that it received a letter on March 15 stating that Amalgamated in Chicago had terminated the deal and could "seek compensatory damages for an alleged breach of the merger agreement.” 

Amalgamated Financial denied that it breached the agreement, adding that it “would intend to vigorously defend any such claims” by Amalgamated Bank.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Liberty in Conn. overhauls fees for deposit account

Liberty Bank in Middletown, Conn., created a checking account that replaces overdraft fees with a monthly maintenance fee. 

The $7.4 billion-asset bank said in a press release that the BankSmart product is designed to connect with more underbanked and unbanked consumers. The product includes free 24-hour in network ATM and online banking access, free monthly e-statements and a debit MasterCard, among other things. 

Liberty will waive the $3.95 monthly fee for customers who are 26 or younger and those that are 65 and older. 

“We are dedicated to getting to know our customers personally and helping them grow financially through various resources, tools and our team’s expertise,” David Glidden, the bank’s president and CEO, said in the release. 

“Families often pay too much for basic financial transactions and are hard pressed to build savings and assets,” Glidden added. “This is where Liberty BankSmart can make a difference.” 

Liberty announced in December that it was part of a public-private partnership to make homeownership more affordable.

Friday, March 18, 2022

BNY Mellon warns of 1Q revenue hit tied to Russian ops

Bank of New York Mellon in New York said it expects to take a notable revenue hit in the first quarter tied to a decision to suspend certain activities in Russia. 

The $444 billion-asset company disclosed in a regulatory filing Thursday that it had ceased new banking business in Russia and suspended investment management purchases of Russian securities in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. 

That decision, along with government sanctions, will likely result in a roughly $100 million one-time reduction in revenue in the first quarter. They will also reduce annual revenue by $80 million to $100 million.

USAA hit with $140M in fines tied to BSA issues

USAA Federal Savings Bank in San Antonio has been ordered to pay a total of $140 million to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency tied to lapses in its Bank Secrecy Act compliance. 

The $117 billion-asset bank will pay a $80 million civil money penalty to Fincen, along with a $60 million fine to the OCC. The bank is now operating under enforcement actions associated with violations tied to BSA and anti-money laundering laws. 

Fincen, which is part of the Treasury Department, said the bank, from January 2016 to April 2021, failed to implement and maintain an anti-money-laundering program that met legal standards. Fincen said USAA failed to report thousands of suspicious transactions. 

USAA “willfully failed to ensure that its compliance program kept pace, resulting in millions of dollars in suspicious transactions flowing through the U.S. financial system without appropriate reporting,” Himamauli Das, Fincen’s acting director, said in a press release. 

The bank’s management “had knowledge of the violations, yet they failed to quickly and effectively remediate the identified deficiencies,” Fincen said in a corresponding consent order.

The OCC, which flagged USAA’s BSA and anti-money laundering deficiencies as early as 2017, said the bank pushed its timeline for addressing the issues back from 2020 to June 2021. The agency issued a cease-and-desist order requiring the bank to take “broad and comprehensive” action to improve internal controls. 

USAA was also required to train its staff and secure third-party risk management of its BSA and anti-money laundering programs. 

USAA said in a release that its issues were tied to a failure to “sufficiently strengthen" the expertise and capabilities needed to meet BSA and anti-money laundering requirements. “We are working cooperatively with the OCC and will continue to do so,” the statement added. 

“USAA has already made progress in many critical areas by investing in new systems and training, enhancing staffing and expertise, and improving our processes,” Wayne Peacock, the bank’s CEO, said in a statement. 

USAA has had several regulatory run-ins in recent years, including financial penalties assessed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the OCC.

Organizing group looks to form bank in Colorado

A group with ties to EverBank are looking to form a de novo in Colorado.

The group behind Battle Bank in Avon applied with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on March 11 for deposit insurance. The application wasn’t immediately available.

A public notice filled in connection to the application said Battle Bank would be a national bank regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. 

The notice listed three organizers: Francis Trotter III, Arthur Rule IV and Vincent Amato. 

Trotter, whose LinkedIn profile lists him as the de novo's president, previously served as chairman of EverBank Global Markets.

Amato’s LinkedIn profile listed him as a co-founder and former head of bank operations, strategy and solutions at EverBank. 

EverBank, which was based in Jacksonville, Fla., was sold to TIAA in 2017.

MainStreet Bancshares president to retire

The president of MainStreet Bancshares in Fairfax, Va., is retiring.

The $1.7 billion-asset company said in a press release Friday that Chris Brockett will retire on March 31. Brockett, who has been MainStreet’s president since January 2017, will remain on the company’s board.

“As an accomplished career banker, Chris has insights and experience that will continue to help light our path as we innovate and meet the credit needs of the communities we serve,” Jeff Dick, the company’s chairman and CEO, said in the release. 

Separately, MainStreet said its community development subsidiary, MainStreet Community Capital, will open later this year. The unit will provide capital and other financial services in distressed, low-income communities around Washington, D.C. 

The company also plans to launch Avenu, its Banking as a Service (BaaS) business, later this year.

Trustmark selling corporate trust business

Trustmark in Jackson, Miss., has agreed to sell its corporate trust business to Peoples Financial in Biloxi, Miss. 

The $17.6 billion-asset Trustmark said in a press release Thursday that it expects to sell the business in the second quarter. 

Peoples said in a regulatory filing that it will pay $650,000 for the business, subject to adjustment.

Trustmark's corporate trust business provides trust and agency services in connection with debt securities issued by public corporations and government entities. About 200 bond issues will be transitioned to Peoples. 

"This transition supports our focus on strategic initiatives that will help our company grow, become more efficient and serve our customers with new and innovative products and services as we move forward," Duane Dewey, Trustmark's president and CEO.

"We are pleased that our corporate trust customers will enjoy the same level of service from [Peoples] that they have come to expect from Trustmark,” Dewey added.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Huntington hires Truist exec to oversee consumer banking

Huntington Bancshares in Columbus, Ohio, has hired a former Truist Financial executive to oversee its consumer and business banking operations. 

The $174 billion-asset Huntington said in a press release Wednesday that Brant Standridge will become president of consumer and business banking in early April. He will oversee the company’s branches, business banking, mortgage and home lending and Huntington Financial Advisors. 

Standridge will join Huntington's executive leadership team and report to Steve Steinour, the company’s chairman, president and CEO. 

Standridge previously served as chief retail community banking officer at Truist. He was president of BB&T’s community bank retail and consumer finance businesses prior to that company’s 2019 acquisition of SunTrust Banks. 

"Brant's experience leading one of the largest consumer banks in the nation aligns well with our goal to grow within our expanded footprint and to deliver our differentiated capabilities such as small-business banking beyond our current geography," Steinour said in the release. 

"Brant's deep background leading large-scale businesses across consumer and business banking makes him the ideal leader to ensure we have the resources, products and distribution mix to meet our customers' evolving needs,” Steinour added. 

Truist tapped Dontá Wilson to become its head of retail community banking and marketing. He previously served as Truist’s chief digital and client experience officer.

JPMorgan Chase to buy Irish software firm

JPMorgan Chase in New York has agreed to buy Global Shares, an Irish company that provides cloud-based share plan management services. 

The $3.7 trillion-asset JPMorgan said in a press release Tuesday that it expects to complete the acquisition in the second half of this year. The company did not disclose the price it will pay. 

Global Shares, founded in 2005, has more than 600 clients that range from early stage startups to multinational public corporations. The firm has nearly $200 billion in assets under administration across 650,000 corporate employee participants. 

Since July 2018, Global Shares has partnered with Motive Partners, a specialist fintech investor. 

“The addition of Global Shares is complementary across our entire JPMorgan franchise from new client acquisition for our global private bank and U.S. wealth management businesses to providing new, innovative capabilities to private and public companies globally and helping their employees manage their wealth,” Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of JPMorgan asset and wealth management, said in the release.

JPMorgan will eventually integrate Global Shares into its asset and wealth management business, though the company will remain based in Cork, Ireland. 

JPMorgan was advised by JPMorgan Securities, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and McCann FitzGerald. Global Shares was advised by BofA Securities, Proskauer Rose and Arthur Cox.

Business First to raise $47M through stock offering

Business First Bancshares in Baton Rouge, La., plans to raise about $46.8 million from selling common stock.  The $5.5 billion-asset company...